Late last month, Lil Wayne released one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2018, and a record no one knew if the world would ever hear: Tha Carter V.
Stuck in limbo for years due to a legal battle Weezy waged with Birdman and Cash Money Records, Tha Carter V had become a white whale of sorts for the rap world. It took years, but Wayne was finally cut loose: Earlier this year, he settled the lawsuit and gained full control over his Young Money imprint.
Tha Carter V dropped on September 28 to adulation from the hip hop world, and acclaim from critics particularly for its sonic currency: In a dynamic, ever-changing genre, it walks the line between dated and trendy surprisingly well, especially considering it’s been blocked from release for years.
That comes down to the way Wayne and his producers labored over the record continually, as well as the varied, A-list features from Kendrick Lamar to Snoop Dogg, but also the range of songs sampled on the album. Here are a few of them.
“Dedication” by 2 Chainz on “Dedicate”
Wayne didn’t sit around doing nothing even as Tha Carter V lay straitjacketed by the Cash Money lawsuit. The notoriously prolific rapper dropped numerous solo mixtapes, and often hopped in the studio to work with others on joint projects.
One of those projects is Collegrove, the album he and 2 Chainz put out in 2016. It opens with “Dedication,” 2 Chainz’s tribute to Wayne, his impact on hip hop culture and the ways he personally helped Tity Boi in his own career. As he raps, “If it wasn’t for Wayne, it wouldn’t be / A lot of dudes in the game, including me.”
On Tha Carter V’s “Dedicate,” Wayne graciously acknowledges the love 2 Chainz sent his way, sampling part of “Dedication”’s third verse: “You tatted your face and changed the culture / You screamed ‘Suu whoop’ and them gangstas loved you / You bought a Bugatti so you can flex / And most of the bad bitches your ex.”
It’s a perfect sample for a song where Wayne sprawls out, surveying his sphere of influence and reminding everyone who really runs the rap game.
“Special Delivery” by G Dep on “Uproar”
When Wayne samples tracks, he often makes sure the unmistakable essence of the original track endures in some form. His reimagination of G Dep’s “Special Delivery” on Tha Carter V’s “Uproar” is case in point.
“Special Delivery” was the second single from G Dep’s debut album, Child of Ghetto, and essentially skyrocketed the Harlem native into mainstream success. It received an official remix, which featured the likes of Ghostface Killah, Keith Murray, Craig Mack and P Diddy, who also appeared on the original.
While the song could have launched a promising career, G Dep’s time as a rapper was short-lived. Nine years after Child of the Ghetto, the rapper—real name Trevell Coleman—confessed to a cold case crime. He was charged for the murder of John Henkel in October 1993 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“Uproar” isn’t the first time Weezy has sampled “Special Delivery,” though. On the J Cole-assisted “Green Ranger,” a cut off his 2012 mixtape Dedication 4, the rapper lays his confident flow over the exact same EZ Elpee-produced beat.
The irony here, however, is that Wayne apparently dislikes the boom bap number. As he raps on “Green Ranger”: “I don’t even like this beat but fuck it, I’mma only spit a few bars ’cause I don’t like this beat.” But clearly only to a certain degree, since he’s made another song out of it.
“Xxplosive” by Dr Dre on “Dope N****z”
It’s really hard to miss this one on “Dope N****z”—the bounce of Dr Dre’s redefining gangsta rap hit “Xxplosive” is distinct from the get-go.
Although Dre never released this song as an official single for his album 2001, “Xxplosive” surprisingly received extensive radio airplay, allowing it to spend 20 weeks on the Billboard R&B/hip hop chart and peak at #44.
Kurupt, who lends his mic skills on the track alongside Hittman, Nate Dog and Six-Two, lauds the track as a “total representation of the West Coast.” It’s so legendary that Erykah Badu, Jay-Z and Scarface have built songs around the cult classic.
So it was about time that Wayne jumped on it, too. And what better way for Weezy to pay homage to his west side homies than on “Dope N****z,” a track that practically brags about his peers.
Funnily enough, Snoop Dogg, who makes a cameo on the Weezy cut, also appeared on a song called “Bitch N****z” by Dr Dre on 2001. Could it all just be a coincidence? We think not.
Lil Wayne’s 2012 deposition on “Hittas”
Just like the Barack Obama name-drop tacked onto the end of “Dedicate,” this sample is proof that Tunechi is well aware of the viral pop culture moments that have burnished his mythology in recent years.
“Hittas” begins with an exchange between Wayne and an unidentified man, who asks, “Is it true you performed with Willie Nelson at the Country Music Awards?” “I don’t know,” Wayne replies with a sigh. “But I know I did perform at this badass bitch birthday party recently.” He adds, almost disbelievingly, “She was crazy, stupid thick.”
Wayne’s response was plucked from a 2012 video, first obtained by TMZ, of Wayne’s deposition by the lawyer of documentary filmmaker Quincy Jones III. Jones was a producer behind the acclaimed 2009 doc Tha Carter, which chronicled Wayne’s life around the time of the king-making Tha Carter III. Jones’ lawyer, Pete Ross, was questioning Wayne because the rapper, who wanted control over the film’s final cut, had filed a lawsuit to block its distribution.
Wayne’s refusal to roll over and play nice in this deposition is the stuff of legend. Besides digressing to a “badass bitch birthday party,” Wayne also piles on the attitude—“Yeah, it’s something outta your ass. That’s my answer.”—and repeatedly asserts, in a much-memed moment, that he doesn’t recall the numerous criminal charges he faced in the late aughts.
Also sampled in “Hittas” is an interview excerpted in the deposition, where a woman comments, “Clearly, Lil Wayne answers to no one.” Damn right he doesn’t.
“Lord Hold Me in Your Arms” by The Crowns of Glory on “Demon”
Just as Tha Carter V‘s 18th track “Demon” comes on, you hear a dreamy, lo-fi combination of bass, jangly guitars and drums that provide the backbeat to Wayne’s flow. The sample in question is “Lord Hold Me in Your Arms,” a 1974 song released by Christian rhythm and blues group The Crowns of Glory.
And as the track’s title would suggest, it’s a spiritually charged ditty, filled with verses about submitting to god. “Every night I lay to sleep / I pray to the Lord my soul you keep (if I should die),” an unidentified singer croons on the chorus over the sparkling instrumental.
Weezy extracts the line “All I want you to do is hold,” heard on the song’s outro, and scatters it throughout his own track—juxtaposing the laid-back gospel sample with his own hard-hitting bars about sleeping with women and taking advantage of those around him.
Tunechi isn’t the only rapper who’s fond of the 1970s rare gem, though. Prior to “Demon,” the song has been sampled on multiple hip hop tracks, including Isaiah Rashad’s “Heavenly Father,” Sean Price’s “Soul Perfect” and Show Tha Product’s “Hold You Down.”
“Indecision” by Sampha on “Let it All Work Out”
Perhaps the most left-field sample you’ll find on Tha Carter V is of “Indecision,” by the British musician Sampha.
Through its impassioned hook, “Let it all work out,” repeated over an energetic piano line, Wayne ventriloquizes his intertwined feelings of triumph and relief at his return to rap, as well as his head-shaking awe at the odds he’s overcome in his life.
It’s an emotive sample befitting a striking song: “Let it All Work Out” stands out in Wayne’s sprawling discography as the first time he’s rapped so openly about the time he attempted suicide with his mother’s gun as a child.
“I shot it, and I woke up with blood all around me / It’s mine, I didn’t die, but as I was dying / God came to my side and we talked about it / He sold me another life and he made a prophet,” he raps in the last, riveting verse.
The occasional, tearful voice memos from Jacida Carter that surface throughout Tha Carter V show how important his mother’s love and blessings were to the making of this album. It’s no wonder, then, that Wayne felt he could unburden himself of such a trauma on this pivotal record.
Stream Tha Carter V on Spotify.